Page 5374 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Bill 2009

Debate resumed from 15 October 2009, on motion by Mr Hargreaves:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.43): Madam Assistant Speaker, the opposition will be supporting the Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Bill 2009. I note that the objective of this bill, according to the explanatory statement, is:

… to entitle certain persons who carry out construction work (or who supply related goods and services) to a timely payment for the work they carry out, and the goods and services they supply.

The practical impact of this bill will be to allow small businesses, in particular in the construction industry, to improve their cash flow. The importance of cash flow to small businesses cannot be overstated. Owners of small businesses are often reliant on the strength of their business on a week-to-week basis for their wages or salaries; so any measures that sensibly improve the ability of small businesses to secure their cash flow are worthy of consideration and support.

This bill also highlights the importance of good regulation. I was disappointed that the Assembly did not have the opportunity to discuss small business red tape yesterday, and I look forward to the discussion in future sittings. However, today I will touch on the importance of governments taking a common-sense approach towards regulation.

The Productivity Commission has defined “regulation” as “government rules that influence or control behaviour and the administration and enforcement of those rules”. It includes legislation and formal regulations, as well as quasi-regulations such as some codes of conduct and advisory instruments. The key point here is that regulations are government rules that influence behaviour. When a business is influenced by the government, it costs it time and money. Therefore, government regulations should be used as efficiently as possible.

Of course, governments will always need to regulate a number of activities. The challenge for government is to implement good quality regulations that are not unnecessarily burdensome on business. Often this simply requires a common-sense approach from government. We have seen the recent heavy-handed approach by the government towards outdoor displays in Garema Place. This is an example of the government placing an unnecessary burden on business. I am sure that most would agree that the government has not taken a common-sense approach in that instance. Indeed, we could go on about that.

This bill is an important piece of legislation for small business and it is now incumbent upon the government to manage it to ensure it becomes quality regulation that is a positive government influence on business and that it does not become an unnecessary burden on business, big or small.

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